This is a very good question. Such a good one that CNN and the BBC have both run stories on it, seemingly using the same material. And that is no surprise: so much of Thai tourist culture is a copy of something else that succeeded in making money.
If you set up a bar that draws lots of custom for having draught beer, the other bars will reluctantly follow suit. If moped hire becomes popular, before you know it dozens of places are renting out mopeds. If one place gets a plethora of yoga devotees, before you know it other resorts suddenly discover they are in fact on a spiritual journey. There seems to be a dearth of new ideas for making money; better to try something that has already been proved to be successful. And hence the reluctance to move on, or try something different.
Where is this going? Well, my guess is that the Haad Rin monthly parties will continue because it is a veritable cash cow. The organisers have become rich. The landowners in Haad Rin have become rich. The rich can do what they want unless the police step in, and then the police can sometimes have marvellous amnesia and pretend they never had any objections all along.
This is all somewhat guess work. Thailand is the land of the free, and yet it has been several years since they’ve had an election. You can’t use the USA or Europe to understand the political system of the country. There aren’t any locally elected councillors to scrutinize by-laws, no local political parties posting pamphlets and knocking on doors. And then there is the police.
It is instructive to remember the fiasco of Koh Phangan Airport. It is not unreasonable to expect surveys and land purchase agreements to quickly uncover if land is designated as protected national park. However, this was only revealed after Kan Air failed to secure funding partners for the stalled project. It wasn’t the rules that prevented the airport being built, it was a lack of suckers ready to put forward money.
The BBC and CNN interviewed local business owners many of whom would like to see the Full Moon Party better regulated, with more policing, and more concern for the environment. Indeed, many sense that ‘up market’ holds the keys to more tourist dollars. Perhaps a FMP for polite east Asians? They could drink watery beer, wear face masks and go to bed before midnight. They would be less offensive than the fuck bucket brigade. But back in the real world…
Asking people to wear face masks and social distance at a Full Moon Party is ludicrous and would be viewed as a total kill joy for those avid Full Mooners, many of whom regard themselves as immune to the coronavirus. People gather in their masses for the anarchic experience; considering themselves unlikely to get burnt by the fire rope, get raped or drowned in the sea.
And the organisers of the Full Moon Party know this. They have clout on the island. It would take considerable determination for the junta in Bangkok to halt the parties.
It is more likely that the vagaries of fashion, the whim of what is cool to be more of a decisive factor in curbing the excesses of the party. There is always the next ‘in’ place to top the must-do list of young travellers. Just as overnight it seemed that tattoos were the last word in street, so a new unmarked generation will just as quickly leave older generations looking decidedly out-of-touch for having blue inked skin. Don’t expect any local diktat to tone down the party. The only reason the party was put on hold was because the tourists vanished. When they return so will the DJs, buckets, flaming ropes, dealers, night walkers and bucket sellers.